I know we are supposed to be unbiased, but our favorite Philodendron is a tie between the Philodendron Mamei and the Philodendron Gloriosum. 🙂
Today’s article will cover details on caring for the former. Also known as the Silver Cloud, this easy-going aroid thrives in high humidity (50-80%), and stable temperatures between 55 – 80 degrees F (13-27 degrees C).
Choose a peat-based but airy potting mix, and water deeply when the top 2 inches (5cm) of soil is dry.
Read on for more details!
What is the Philodendron Mamei?
Hailing from the tropical rainforests of Ecuador, it earned its nicknamed Silver Cloud from the silvery-grey variegation on its foliage. Deep veins run through its foliage, giving it an almost quilted look.
Growers prize this rare aroid for its gloriously large heart-shaped leaves.
Caring for your plant
A unique characteristic of the Philodendron Mamei is the colour of its leaves changes in response to light intensity. Your plant develops more silvery variegation when the light intensity is too high for its liking. This is because the variegation prevents some light from being absorbed.
Conversely, uniformly pale leaves indicate too little light. It’s great to have a plant that communicates with you, so you can easily adjust light conditions.
On the whole, the Philodendron Mamei thrives in 70-85% sunlight – bright but filtered light. East-facing windows are perfect for this purpose. They can also tolerate low-light conditions.
Its ability to grow in shadier spots is due to its native environment. Being a terrestrial crawling plant, it is often found close to the rainforest floors, where sunlight is filtered through layers of taller trees and plants. It is only infrequently observed growing as an epiphyte (climbing on trees).
Though this plant is easy to grow, watering is the one area to pay close attention to. Improper watering, in particular overwatering, is the main pain point for ailing Philodendron Mameis.
Here are some watering tips for your Philodendron Mamei. These tips ensure that your plant is watered only when it needs it. Follow them, and you’d do fine!
- Don’t water on a set schedule. Instead, check the soil moisture before watering, as changes in season and growth rates affect how much water your plant needs.
- To do this, allow the top two inches of soil to dry out before watering. Always check by poking your finger in the topsoil. Feel if the topsoil is wet. Another sign that the soil is still moist is tiny soil particles sticking to your finger. In this case, hold off on watering and check back again in a day or two.
- When watering, soak the plant until excess water drains from the bottom drainage hole. Don’t be afraid of watering deeply like this – it encourages roots to grow deep and healthy.
- Using this method, you should observe less frequent watering in the autumn and winter months, where evaporation is lower, and your plant’s growth naturally slows.
- Always use a pot with drainage holes for your Philodendron Mamei, as it allows excess water to drain away.
- Read on to the soil section – using an airy and loose potting mix is essential as it prevents too much water from being retained in the pot. In this way, using suitable watering methods and the right potting mix go hand-in-hand to ensure your plant is not overwatered.
For more watering tips, check this out.
Being a tropical plant, the Philodendron Mamei enjoys high humidity. Aim for 50-80% humidity, with the higher end of this range being optimal. We currently have our Mamei in 80% humidity, and she loves it!
If your home is dry, you can increase the humidity around your plant by placing it on a tray of wet pebbles. Evaporation from the tray increases the water vapour levels in the air, which is the measure of humidity.
Here are some other ways to increase humidity in your home.
The Philodendron Mamei prefers warm temperatures between 55 – 80 degrees F (13-27 degrees C). It can tolerate a few degrees cooler or warmer, but keep it in this range for best growth. Never let the plant’s temperature fall below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C).
Just like many Philodendrons and Monsteras, these plants are not cold-hardy. They struggle with cold chills, as well as fluctuations in temperature. Place your Silver Cloud away from drafty doors or windows.
Use the ideal temperature range as a guide if you are thinking of planting outdoors. You may need to bring your plant indoors during colder weather.
You can expect your plant to grow up to 3.5 feet (1.1 metres) tall when grown indoors. Although its leaves will not grow anywhere as large as they would in the rainforest, indoor Mameis leaves can still span up to 8 inches (20cm). They are known to grow relatively quickly in optimal conditions, so you may need to repot your Philodendron Mamei every year.
To support growth, we also like to stake our plant to a moss pole, encouraging it to climb. Here’s a guide on how to use a moss pole, and its benefits.
An organically rich but well-draining potting soil is best for the Philodendron Mamei. You can find a potting mix specifically for Philodendrons, or you can make your own! Avoid using succulent potting mixes as these tend to dry out too quickly for Philodendrons.
Here’s the potting mix we used for our Philodendron Mamei, which is the same mix we recommend for Philodendron Gloriosums. This pH is slightly acidic, which is what your Mamei prefers:
- Two parts peat-based Miracle-Gro potting mix
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part orchid bark
- plus a handful of charcoal
The Miracle-Gro indoor potting mix provides a rich nutrient base for your plant, while perlite and orchid bark increases the soil’s drainage properties. Charcoal is a less common addition but helps reduce impurities.
Ideally, use a deep container to support root growth. A ratio of 1:1 in terms of diameter to depth is ideal. For example, use a pot 10 inches (25cm) wide and 10 inches deep.
Philodendrons are not heavy feeders, but liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength can be used every month. This provides a little nutrient boost to your heavily-foliaged plant.
We recommend using an organic fertilizer high in nitrogen like this one. Fertilizer labels typically display three numbers which signify the ratios of nitrogen to phosphorus to potassium. For example, it may read 9-3-6, which means 9 parts of nitrogen to 3 parts of phosphorus to 6 parts of potassium.
High nitrogen, in this instance, is preferable. According to Jasey Kelly, an expert writer with decades of experience in gardening, nitrogen encourages more robust green growth.
Whereas some other heavily-flowering plants do better with higher phosphorus to encourage blooming, a heavily-foliaged plant like the Mamei needs more nitrogen.
Over-fertilising will do more harm than good, so don’t fertilize more than once a month in growing months, and hold off fertilizing in autumn and winter.
If your Philodendron Mamei grows well, it will eventually need to be repotted into a larger container. When the roots have filled the pot and started to come out of the drainage holes, it’s time for a bigger pot!
- Repotting should be done in spring, just at the start of the growing season.
- Repotting once a year is usually sufficient, but watch out for signs that your plant is rootbound.
- Always use fresh soil as the potting mix’s nutrients deplete over time.
- Use a pot about 2 inches larger than the original, giving your plant sufficient room to grow. However, don’t upsize beyond a few inches, as unused soil retains too much water, leading to an overwatered plant.
Yes, your Philodendron Mamei is toxic when ingested. Many houseplants, particularly ornamental aroids, produce insoluble calcium oxalates in their stems and leaves. These sharp crystals pierce cell tissues, causing pain and damage.
According to the University of Florida, effects include dermal and gastric irritations, varying from mild to severe. Animals can also suffer from these effects.
When growing your Philodendron, it’s best to keep your plant out of reach from pets and children.
Is Philodendron Mamei A Climbing Philodendron?
Technically, no. It is a terrestrial creeper rather than a climber. Your plant has repent stems, meaning that it creeps across the ground and produces roots at its nodes. However, on rare occasions, the Philodendron Mamei has been observed climbing on top of other plants.
In any case, it does well being staked to a moss pole and, in this way, appears like a climbing Philodendron. Moss poles support healthy growth and lusher foliage. It’s also a good option if floor space is a constraint!
The Philodendron Gloriosum is another creeping Philodendron that has a similar creeping habit.
You’re spoilt for choice. The Philodendron Mamei can be propagated in several ways: stem cuttings or through basal branches and air layering.
Propagation through Stem Cuttings
- Identify a healthy portion of the stem with at least two nodes if it has aerial roots, even better.
- Using clean garden shears, cut off a 4-inch portion of the stem.
- Remove any leaves on the lower half of the stem.
- Place the stem cutting into a potting mix, with at least one node under the soil. Ensure no leaves are beneath the soil surface.
- Place the container in a bright spot with indirect light.
- Keep the soil moist (but not soggy) until roots establish.
- In 2-3 weeks, you should feel a bit of resistance when you gently tug at the stem – this means roots have formed.
- Treat the new plant as you would any other Philodendron Mamei.
Propagation through Basal Branches
Mature plants will branch out at the base, often spilling over and out of the pot.
If you see a long vine starting to develop aerial roots such that it is spilling over the original pot, you will be able to propagate the plant using this method.
- Place another pot next to the original. Fill this with moist potting mix.
- Take the long vine and gently place it in the new pot. Bury the aerial roots under the soil. Ensure no leaves are beneath the soil surface – cut these off if need be.
- Once the roots have been established in the new pot, cut the stem to separate the mother plant from its new rooted baby plant. Use clean garden shears to deliver the cut, and wear gardening gloves as the plant sap may cause skin irritation.
You’ll know the roots are established if you feel resistance when giving the stem a gentle tug.
Propagation through Air Layering
Air Layering is another method you can use to propagate your Philodendron Mamei. This is achieved by wounding the stem and wrapping it in moist sphagnum moss.
For this, you’ll need to prepare a fistful of moistened sphagnum moss, twine or gardening ties; and a clear plastic wrap (like cling wrap or a clear plastic bag). Read through the instructions once over before carrying out each step.
- First, gather the tools stated above.
- Poke holes in the clear plastic wrap. You can use a pen or small scissors to do this.
- Identify parts of the plant that have started to grow some aerial roots.
- Gently press a small ball of moist sphagnum moss against the surface of the node and the root. The sphagnum moss should encircle the node. You might need to hold the sphagnum moss in place with your hand.
- Using your other hand, wrap the whole sphagnum moss ball with the clear plastic wrap.
- Use twine to gently secure the plastic wrap (with the sphagnum moss underneath the wrap) to the plant, such that the moss and wrap will not fall off.
- Keep the moss moist by watering through the holes in the plastic wrap.
- In 3 weeks, you should see roots growing into the sphagnum moss.
- Cut below the node using clean garden shears to separate the mother plant from the node and aerial roots.
- Plant the new cutting into a potting mix.
- Ensure the potting mix is kept moist while your new plant establishes.
- Treat as you would any other Philodendron Mamei.
How do I make Philodendron Mamei look bushy?
Pruning stem tips is an excellent way to encourage a bushy look. We also like using a moss pole to create a fuller aesthetic.
The upside of pruning tips is that it gives you stem cuttings to propagate!
Is misting a Philodendron Mamei helpful?
Being a tropical plant, your Philodendron Mamei enjoys high humidity. However, we prefer using a humidifier to raise humidity levels rather than regular misting. This is because bacteria and fungi use wet foliage to breed and spread.
If you choose to mist your plant, do it in the morning so that evaporation occurs throughout the day, reducing the risk of pathogen growth.
Common Issues and Pests
Here are some common issues that may plague your Philodendron Mamei and how to solve them.
- Yellowing or wilting leaves. This is usually a sign of overwatering. Check the soil moisture to confirm. As with many Philodendrons, overwatering is by far the most common issue gardeners face. Adjust your watering practices accordingly. For severely overwatered plants, you will need to check for root rot. Take your plant out of its pot prune off any dead or damaged roots (these are black or brown). Then, repot in fresh soil. Here’s an article on steps to save your overwatered plant.
- Pale coloured leaves. This is most commonly a sign of insufficient light. Relocate your plant to a brighter spot, with plenty of filtered light – at least 7 hours a day. Consider using grow lights if you don’t have a sunnier place in your home.
- Dark, irregular spots on leaves. Leaf spots indicate a bacterial infection, and are usually accompanied with a foul smell. First, isolate your plant to prevent bacteria from spreading to other plants. If you are misting your plant, stop – bacteria spread through moisture. Sterilise garden shears in 70% alcohol solution and prune off any dead or damaged portions, making sure to re-sterilise after use. Then, apply a copper-based fungicide to protect healthy leaves from damage.
Another common problem is pest infestations. The usual pests are spider mites, mealybugs, fungus gnats, aphids and thrips.
Thankfully all of these can be solved using either an Insecticidal soap spray or neem oil. Insecticidal soap spray is an effective solution against all these pests; we always have a bottle on hand in case of infestation!
Alternatively, neem oil is also an effective, natural insecticide. A key benefit of using neem oil is that you can use it preventatively as part of your plant’s routine maintenance. Here’s our guide on how to use neem oil in this fashion.
Similar Plants and Varieties
The Philodendron genus, comprising approximately 450 species, are trendy houseplants. And for a good reason – most are easy to grow and have varied attractive foliage and appearance. Here are some of our favourites:
- Philodendron Verrucosum
- Philodendron El Choco Red – with a surprising red underside
- Philodendron Gigas
- Philodendron Pink Princess
- Philodendron Birkin
- Philodendron Gloriosum
- Philodendron Florida Ghost
- Philodendron Goeldii
- Philodendron Tortum – palm-like fronds on twisted stems give a tropical vibe 🙂
- Philodendron Brandtianum
- Philodendron Melanochrysum
- Philodendron Splendid (Philodendron Verrucosum x Melanochrysum)
- Philodendron Brasil
- Philodendron Spiritus Sancti – this is the rarest Philodendron.
- Philodendron Billietiae – another climbing Philodendron.
- Philodendron Atabapoense
Spot the difference
Two similar-looking Philodendrons are the Philodendron Sodiroi and the Philodendron Plowmanii.
Philodendron Mamei versus Philodendron Sodiroi. The Sodiroi also has large, heart-shaped leaves. However the Sodiroi has much more silver to green on its leaves than the Mamei. Another difference is in its growth habit – the Mamei is a creeper, growing vertically across the ground, while the Sodiroi is a climber, growing vertically.
Philodendron Mamei versus Philodendron Plowmanii. Though they have similar-shaped leaves, the Plowmanii lacks the silvery-grey, patchy variegation that the Mamei has. Another way to tell the difference is by examining the plant’s petiole (what holds up the leaf). The Plowmanii’s petiole is uniquely ruffled along the edges.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you propagate a Philodendron Mamei from seeds?
You can, but it is not the easiest way to propagate the plant. Propagation through seeds is best left to the experts. We prefer using stem cuttings or through basal branches or air layering. These are detailed in the Propagation section above.
Where can you buy a Philodendron Mamei?
Mameis from reputable growers can be found on Etsy. Note that Philodendron Mamei is considered a rare species, so expect to pay higher prices for this plant. While tissue culture has increased the supply of Mameis, demand still outstrips supply, thanks to its rising popularity.
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.
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